Front covers: delving into the archives

By James Macfarlane

Garish? Gaudy? Lurid? In times gone by, the front covers of Indigo, then called sense, were wildly different from today. Printed onto glossy paper in a smaller-sized magazine format, the front covers were most often photography-based, telling readers what articles they would find on the inside. With a reduced number of sections, including just books, music, film, theatre, and college news, the publication was much gossipier and had more of a magazine feel than it does now. Flicking through a stack of magazines from the archives, these four covers stood out to me the most. Their bold colour palettes, quirky fonts, and lack of regularity make them all completely unique, whilst still retaining the sense vibe.

Bold colour palettes and quirky fonts

There is a real sense of the early 2000s in these covers. This whole ‘Y2K’ aesthetic is created mainly through the fashion and the graphics, but it is interesting to think about the influence sense would have had over students at the time of publication. In a time where the internet was still finding its feet, this magazine would have acted as a millennial Durham students’ equivalent of a social media platform. Providing stage reviews, advertising upcoming events, talking about new cinema releases, as well as updating readers on what was happening in each college that week.

More of a magazine feel

Even though these covers are all from over 20 years ago, it is interesting to consider the similarities between the university now and then, and Indigo now and then, to its equivalent. The mention of ‘epiphany term blues’ for example, is a student experience still widely experienced today. Despite these covers appearing kitsch and almost retro, it is never a bad thing to look back on the past – particularly at the roots and foundations on which Indigo, as we know it, was established. It is also of paramount importance to remember that at the time, these covers would not have been anything but normal, it is just now that they appear to be from a time gone by.

Image: 012 (March 2001)

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